Indo-US 2+2 Di­a­logue

Dis­cus­sions were wide rang­ing cov­er­ing the geopo­lit­i­cal and geostrate­gic de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing in the Korean Penin­sula and the Af-Pak re­gion. Pom­peo em­pha­sized that “all coun­tries in Asia and south-east Asia can ben­e­fit from a free and fair Indo-Pa­cific

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

Dis­cus­sions were wide rang­ing cov­er­ing the geopo­lit­i­cal and geostrate­gic de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing in the Korean Penin­sula and the Af-Pak re­gion. Pom­peo em­pha­sized that “all coun­tries in Asia and south-east Asia can ben­e­fit from a free and fair Indo-Pa­cific and that will be our pri­or­ity.”

THE FIRST EVER INDO-US 2+2 Di­a­logue fi­nally took place on Septem­ber 6, 2018, af­ter two post­pone­ments over past one year. Three events pre­ceded the di­a­logue: first, on Au­gust 2, 2018, US Congress passed a de­fence spend­ing bill seek­ing amend­ment to ‘Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tion Act (CAATSA) to pro­vide waiver’s to Amer­ica’s strate­gic part­ners like In­dia from puni­tive sanc­tions against those do­ing busi­ness with Rus­sian de­fence in­dus­try – bill passed with over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of 87 to 10; se­cond, US blocked $350 mil­lion in coali­tion sup­port funds (CSF) to Pak­istan post De­fence Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis ex­pressed in­abil­ity to cer­tify to Congress suf­fi­cient ac­tions by Pak­istan against Haqqani Net­work; third, DAC cleared pur­chase of $1 bil­lion US Na­tional Ad­vanced Sur­face-toAir Mis­sile Sys­tem-II (NASMAS-II) in­stead of indige­nous BMD suc­cess­fully tried but await­ing for­mal com­mis­sion­ing, and me­dia re­ports In­dia is likely to buy the US Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles for In­dian Navy in­stead of indige­nous ‘Nirb­hay’ – pos­si­ble ap­pease­ment ac­tions to mel­low US sanc­tions against Indo-Rus­sian and Indo-Ira­nian deals, and; fourth, US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo stated on Septem­ber 5 that In­dia buy­ing Rus­sian S-400 and oil from Iran would not be “pri­mary” fo­cus of the di­a­logue.

It may be re­called that in 2016, the US had ac­corder ‘Ma­jor De­fence Part­ner’ sta­tus to In­dia. EAM Sushma Swaraj re­ceived US Sec­re­tary of State at the air­port on ar­rival while De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man wel­comed De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis at the air­port on ar­rival at New Delhi. Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists, Pom­peo termed In­dia as “true strate­gic part­ner”. Gen­eral Joseph Dun­ford, Chair­man US Joint Chiefs was also part of US del­e­ga­tion. Sushma Swaraj had sep­a­rate bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Pom­peo while Sithara­man had one-on-one meet­ing with Mat­tis be­fore the del­e­ga­tion­level 2+2 Di­a­logue. Dur­ing the bi­lat­eral and del­e­ga­tion-level di­a­logue, the two sides rec­og­nized their strate­gic part­ner­ship, com­mit­ment to work to­gether on re­gional and global is­sues, in­clud­ing in bi­lat­eral, tri­lat­eral, and quadri­lat­eral for­mats. The two sides de­cided to es­tab­lish se­cure hot-lines between the In­dian EAM and De­fence Min­is­ter and their US coun­ter­parts. Dis­cus­sions were wide rang­ing cov­er­ing the geopo­lit­i­cal and geostrate­gic de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing in the Korean Penin­sula and the Af-Pak re­gion. Pom­peo em­pha­sized that “all coun­tries in Asia and south-east Asia can ben­e­fit from a free and fair Indo-Pa­cific and that will be our pri­or­ity.” The US ac­knowl­edged In­dia’s long­stand­ing and on­go­ing con­tri­bu­tions of eco­nomic as­sis­tance to Afghanistan and also wel­comed In­dia’s en­hanced role in Afghanistan’s de­vel­op­ment and sta­bil­i­sa­tion. The In­dian side brought up the is­sue of ter­ror­ism by Pak­istan. Both sides af­firmed in­creased bi­lat­eral counter-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion; in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing ef­forts and at in­ter­na­tional for a, and sup­port for a UN Com­pre­hen­sive Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Ter­ror­ism. The joint state­ment called upon Pak­istan to stop ex­port­ing ter­ror. There was also talk of main­tain­ing pres­sure over Da­wood Ibrahim – in­di­cat­ing In­dia re­fuses to de­velop a spine and fight such wars it­self. Jim Mat­tis said, “We will con­tinue work­ing to­gether, join hands and ex­pand In­dia’s role as a pri­mary ma­jor de­fence part­ner, to el­e­vate our re­la­tion­ship to a level to com­mence with our clos­est al­lies and part­ners”.

A high point of the di­a­logue was sign­ing of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pat­i­bil­ity and Se­cu­rity Agree­ment (COM­CASA) that will: al­low both coun­tries to share high­end en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tion and satel­lite data – im­ply­ing what­ever is de­tected by US war­ships or air­craft will in­stantly get trans­mit­ted to In­dian Navy on se­cure en­crypted chan­nel, and; the agree­ment pro­vides le­gal frame­work for high-end de­fence tech­nol­ogy trans­fer – for ex­am­ple, In­dia can ac­quire Sea Guardian drones to de­tect and tar­get en­emy ves­sels. In­dian and US of­fi­cials had de­bated COM­CASA in 2007 but it had then not been cleared by the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee of Se­cu­rity (CCS). Since then, the two sides had been work­ing on the re­vised text of the agree­ment. While Pom­peo termed COM­CASA a “mile­stone” in the re­la­tion­ship, Sithara­man as­serted that the pact will en­hance In­dia’s de­fence ca­pa­bil­ity and pre­pared­ness. Readi­ness was an­nounced to ne­go­ti­ate an In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity An­nex (ISA) that would sup­port closer de­fense in­dus­try co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

A joint de­ci­sion was also taken at the di­a­logue for US and In­dian mil­i­taries to carry out large-scale joint ex­er­cises next year; si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the air, on the land and at sea. The two sides fur­ther reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to on­go­ing and fu­ture co­op­er­a­tion to en­sure a sta­ble cy­berspace en­vi­ron­ment and to pre­vent cy­ber-at­tacks. Sushma Swaraj also dis­cussed the con­tentious is­sue of the H1B visa with Pom­peo. The US re­it­er­ated full sup­port for In­dia’s im­me­di­ate ac­ces­sion to the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group. Both sides com­mit­ted to fur­ther ex­pand­ing and bal­anc­ing the trade and eco­nomic part­ner­ship con­sis­tent with their lead­ers’ 2017 joint state­ment, in­clud­ing by fa­cil­i­tat­ing trade, im­prov­ing mar­ket ac­cess, and ad­dress­ing is­sues of in­ter­est to both sides.

The next 2+2 Di­a­logue is to be held in the United States in 2019. There was no of­fi­cial men­tion of the S-400 Tri­umf In­dia is ac­quir­ing from Rus­sia but Pom­peo told re­ports af­ter the di­a­logue, “Our ef­fort here is not to pe­nalise a great strate­gic part­ner like In­dia”, adding that Wash­ing­ton was also work­ing with New Delhi to tackle the is­sue of In­dia’s oil im­ports from Iran. Be­fore the di­a­logue, me­dia had brought out that In­dian con­cerns would be con­veyed to the US side. Pre­sum­ably, th­ese would have been dis­cussed in the bi­lat­eral dis­cus­sions between Swaraj-Pom­peo and Sithara­man-Mat­tis. Last month the US Congress had al­ready paved the way for waivers to In­dia by pass­ing the con­fer­ence re­port on Na­tional De­fence Au­tho­riza­tion Act-2019 (NDAA-19). But in­di­vid­ual waivers must be viewed in con­text of In­dia’s needs to bal­ance between Indo-US and Indo-Rus­sian re­la­tions which are both strate­gi­cally im­por­tant given the dy­nam­ics of the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion, and an ag­gres­sive China, even if lat­ter is some­what hold­ing its horses un­der shadow of the US-China trade war. Rus­sian of­fi­cials con­firmed at the re­cent Army 2018 Ex­er­cise Su-57 tech­nol­ogy for In­dian Sukhoi Su-30MKI and MiG is of­fer­ing a com­pletely new MiG-35 with 50 per cent more com­bat po­ten­tial, ca­pa­ble of trac­ing 30 tar­gets si­mul­ta­ne­ously and hit­ting 10 of them to­gether, at 20 per cent less prices than other com­peti­tors with trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy (ToT) in re­sponse to a re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) for 110 fighter air­craft for the IAF un­der ‘Make in In­dia’ project. There is also the ques­tion of US-Pak­istan re­la­tion­ship in the ‘long-term’ based on the premise the Wash­ing­ton’s hope that Pak­istan will help Tal­iban rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan and curb ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties, of which Im­ran Khan may have ad­min­is­tered an­other sweet pill to Mike Pom­peo when the met on Septem­ber 5. Fi­nally, the Indo-US Strate­gic Part­ner­ship is very im­por­tant but needs ac­com­mo­da­tion and bal­ance, con­form­ing to dy­nam­ics of the re­gion.

The Indo-US Strate­gic Part­ner­ship is very im­por­tant but needs ac­com­mo­da­tion and bal­ance, con­form­ing to dy­nam­ics of the re­gion

(Above) De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man lead­ing the In­dian del­e­ga­tion dur­ing the bi­lat­eral meet­ing with the US Sec­re­tary of De­fence, James Mat­tis on the side­lines of the 2+2 di­a­logue in New Delhi; (Right, Top) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with the US Sec­re­tary of State, Michael R. Pom­peo and the US Sec­re­tary of De­fence, James Mat­tis, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj and De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man; (Right, above) US Sec­re­tary of De­fence Mat­tis and De­fence Min­is­ter Sithara­man ex­chang­ing the doc­u­ments af­ter sign­ing the COM­CASA dur­ing the 2+2 Bi­lat­eral Di­a­logue between the two coun­tries in New Delhi.

PHO­TOGRAPHS: PIB, Naren­dra Modi/twit­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.